What is Consequentialism?

Good morning everyone,

I hope that you’re having a lovely day 🙂

Today’s blog is going to take a look at the philosophical term ‘Consequentialism’ – what it is, and how it affects the way in which certain people make decisions in life.

Hello & Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Consequentialism is “the view that normative properties depend only on consequences”. What this means, is that consequentialists view what’s morally right or wrong in the world, based off of the consequences of our actions.

One ethical theory which is closely related to consequentialism is the normative ethical theory of ‘Utilitarianism’. I’ll leave the full breakdown of what we mean by Utilitarianism for a future blog, but the key point of the theory is that it states that morality is based on what creates the most overall happiness – under the ‘Act Utilitarianism’ perspective, the morally correct actions to take are those that create the most aggregate happiness.

We can see that Utilitarians would judge the consequences of different actions based on the possible happiness generated, therefore making them a consequentialist theory, deriving their decisions of what is morally right or wrong based off of the consequences created.

Followers of the theories rooted in ‘asceticism’ would view what’s morally right or wrong to be completely opposite to that of the utilitarian, however. Asceticism is the belief that we must abstain from sensual pleasure & endure pain in our physical lives, in the pursuit of spiritual happiness & a heavenly afterlife.

People who think in this way would judge what they deem as morally right to be the actions whose consequences do not create sensual pleasures or deter them from certain pains in life. Asceticism & utilitarianism are both classed as consequentialist theories, as the right act or decision to take is judged based on the possible consequences created.

Well then, there we have it, this has been an introduction to what philosophers call consequentialism – the view that morality is based solely on consequences. What do you think of consequentialism? Do you think it’s a good way to base our foundations of morality? Do you factor the consequences of your actions into everything that you do? Why or why not might this be the case?

There are a couple of points for you to think over 😄

Be sure to let me know your thoughts & opinions 🙂

Thanks for reading & I hope you have a lovely day!

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James Sweeney

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